Thursday, April 23, 2015

Railroads built the Pacific Northwest

There is a fairly new exhibit on display in the foyer of the Train Shed. Railroads Built the Pacific Northwest was designed by the Webb Group and fabricated by Artcraft Display Graphics Inc. Deputy Director Jessie Cunningham curated the exhibit, which included content development and image selection. Images came from either the Museum’s collection or were purchased from other local sources including Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum and UW Special Collections. The companion webpage is available on the Museum's website.

The display is the Phase 2 exhibit for the Train Shed Exhibit Building and focuses on the role of passenger service and freight shipment in the early years of railroading here in the Pacific Northwest. Want to know more? The exhibit is now on display every Saturday as part of the Tour Package program!

The Tour Package is a docent lead experience that begins at the Snoqualmie Depot. Your docent will give a brief tour of the Depot before you board the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad for a short ride to the Train Shed Exhibit Building. Detrain and enjoy a 30 minute tour of the 25,000 sq. ft. building that includes large and small artifacts and several exhibits including the award-winning Wellington Remembered exhibit. Re-board the train and travel west to the top of Snoqualmie Falls where you will view water going over the top of Snoqualmie Falls and a beautiful view of the valley and river below the Falls. Your docent will stay with you during your trip to the Falls, interpreting the scenery and providing both historic and contemporary context. The Package ends when the train returns to Snoqualmie Depot. The round-trip experience lasts approximately 2 hours.

The Tour Package is available every Saturday (except July 11 & 18) at 12:30pm. Tickets may be purchased ahead of time through the Bookstore, 425/888-3030 x 7202, or on the day of through the ticket window. 

The exhibit was made possible with generous grants from 4Culture and Humanities Washington

Friday, April 17, 2015

Now easier than ever to take a seat!

The benches look great in the building!     
People participate in the mission of the Northwest Railway Museum in many ways. Some ride the train or take a tour of the Train Shed Exhibit Building; others are members or donate toward a restoration project, while still others participate by giving their time to the Museum and its mission.  This spring, the Museum had the honor of one such person participating in the Museum’s mission by choosing the Museum as the recipient of his Eagle Scout Project.
Alex, a longtime member, made benches for the Train Shed Exhibit Building. The Museum’s mission is to develop and operate an outstanding railroad museum that provides the public a place to experience the excitement of a working railroad and to see and understand the significance of railroads in the development of Washington and adjacent areas.  As part of that mission, the Museum needs guest accommodations so that visitors may enjoy their experiences as they learn how railroads changed everything. Benches help provide one important feature of guest accommodation, they allow visitors to sit and reflect upon the place of railroads.

For his project, Alex planned, organized and then constructed the benches with the help of fellow scouts and his dad Jeff.  The Museum was able to secure beautiful fir timber for the project and Alex was able to create 8 lovely benches for the Train Shed Exhibit Building.

Many thanks to Alex for his work!  Why not take our tour of the Train Shed on Saturdays and come see the benches? The Tour Package is available every Saturday at 12:30pm and includes a short tour of the Depot, a ride to the Train Shed, a docent tour of the Shed, and a train ride to Snoqualmie Falls. Total program length is two hours. Tour reservations may be made by contacting the bookstore during business hours at 425.888.3030 ext. 7202. Tickets are also available on Saturdays through the ticket window.

The scouts preparing to unload benches at the Train Shed.

Benches have been spread out along the Tour Package route.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A tender behind?

Historically, steam locomotives consumed large quantities of water and fuel.  The nature of the technology - the state-of-the-art in its day - was essentially a giant tea kettle that boiled water to make steam, allowed the steam to build up pressure, used the pressurized steam to perform work, and exhausting the remaining water vapor to the atmosphere.

Light locomotives such as the SCPC 2 or those that operated with limited range may have used a tank to carry extra water.  Thomas the Tank Engine is another example.  Larger locomotives and those requiring greater range used a tender behind the locomotive.  Which brings us to the point of the story: locomotive 924 is under rehabilitation at the Northwest Railway Museum and is receiving a new tender tank.

The lower half of the original tender
tank is worn thin and will no longer
hold water.
A tender tank carries water.  The inside of any tank is almost always wet and will eventually rust from the inside out.  924's tank was constructed in 1899 and today portions of the sides resemble decorative lace, but are made of iron oxide and steel.  Repairing this type of deterioration is time consuming, and often results in additional water leaks just a few years later.  It is difficult to keep ahead of this type of problem and with the price of water in the Northwest, it can get expensive.

New steel parts for a new tender tank
arrived on a trailer from Portland.
924 is expected to operate reliably and a tender tank that does not hold water without measurable loss will never meet that expectation.  So a new tank - an exact copy - is being fabricated inside the Conservation and Restoration Center. The project team thoroughly documented the tender and created a drawing set.  Then, early in February, all the components arrived from a supplier who cut each piece to size and formed shapes such as the radius on the front of the tank.

Rivets are heated and driven with a
pneumatic rivet gun.  The job is
particularly demanding for the person
holding the buck (at left), which backs
up the rivet gun blows.
The heavy work and time-consuming portion of the new tender fabrication is the assembly.  Each piece was moved into position and then lightly tack-welded using an electric welder.  Holes were drilled where rivets were located on the original tender.  Then staff and volunteers applied (or continue to apply) more than 2,000 rivets.

The original tank was removed with a
large excavator and was placed in
long-term storage in the Museum's
Meanwhile, castings, fixtures, and any other part that could be reused from the original tank were carefully removed.  The old tank was unfastened from the deck and frame.  A large excavator was used to lift the tank off the deck and frame and set it aside for long-term storage.

The tank fabrication is nearing
completion, but more rivets are
The tank will remain on the shop floor and many more weeks.  The tender frame requires rehabilitation too, and the tank requires are few more rivets, some hardware, and some paint.  It work continues to progress at the current pace, a fully rehabilitated tender - with new tank - will emerge from the Conservation and Restoration Center in late spring or early summer.  Work will continue on 924 for at least the next 18 months, especially because of the awesome volunteers and staff.  And there is an opportunity for you to help support the project by participating in the Seattle Foundation's Give BIG event on May 5!  Stay tuned for more information.